Polyphonic Spree/ Sufjan Stevens Homie, St.Vincent Debuts: New CD Review
“ … If listening to Megadeth and Bikini Kill as a pubescent girl left any lasting impression on her, it is not evident on these tranquilizing tracks. …” By Johanna Hauser
St. Vincent’s Annie Clark is a delightful, beautiful woman, and at the age of 23, she has done quite a lot. Like a guitar-strumming cannonball she shot straight from dinky Dallas suburbia through the tour bus of the Polyphonic Spree and into the snuggly arms of every bright-eyed indie fan who has ever loved a good ol’ session of mild-mannered, group-oriented fun.
The number of people whistling her catchy tune as they wait in line to pat her on the back is increasing exponentially, and if you have eyes in your head or a sweet tooth in that mouth of yours, chances are you too will just eat her right up. But if you prefer flaming hot cheetos to a sprinkled cupcake or find former band mate Sufjan Stevens a bit of a momma’s boy, Marry Me might not be your favorite new album.
It is impossible to ignore the skill that went into each track of Clark’s debut solo album. She wrote every word, sang every note, played every instrument (aside from a little backup from Spree’s Brian Teasley and Bowie pianist Mike Garson), and did it all with a fairy-like flair many have compared to Kate Bush. Comparisons of all such kinds have been flying around wildly, most without an ounce of accuracy, but you won’t rock out for long without the sneaking suspicion that you’ve heard it all somewhere before.
Is it Sinead O’Connor’s wholesome half sister? Tori Amos meets Dido? Feist goes to Rivendell? On the opening track “Now, Now”, St. Vincent argues otherwise: I’m not your mother’s favorite dog, I’m not the carpet you walk on, I’m not one small atomic bomb, I’m not any any any any any any anything at all.
On “Jesus Saves, I Spend”, Clark serves up a healthy helping of ladylike melody and kitschy backup chanting that’s so yummy it’s hard to say no. And when that silly devil on her shoulder stomps her Mary Janes to “When Your Lips are Red”, your eyebrows will furrow with decided agreement.
But the sweet is never as sweet without the sour. The corny bossa nova on “Human Racing” may give you acid reflux, and St. Vincent’s flavor seems to finish out a little flat. If listening to Megadeth and Bikini Kill as a pubescent girl left any lasting impression on her, it is not evident on these tranquilizing tracks. Still, life is hard enough, and if you want something easy, give this a listen.